Sacred Community - Sarasota County Extension

Sacred Community - Sarasota County Extension

Contemplative Food Gardening:

*Sacred Community

(attracting beneficials)

Robert Kluson

Ag/NR Extension Agent III

UF/IFAS Sarasota County Extension


‣Overview & Goals of Contemplative

Food Gardening Presentation Series

‣Short Review of Contemplative Food


‣Growing Community

‣ Your ecological community

‣ Your contemplative community

Contemplative Food Gardening

• Introduction

Series Titles

• Feed Your Head (Edible Landscaping & Design)

• Growing Food When People & Place Matter

(FL Climate, Crops and Soils)

• Ancient Traditions (Companion Planting and

Biodynamic Agriculture)

Sacred Community (Attracting Beneficials)

• Soil Food (Compost & Earthworms)

• Back to the Future (Contemplative Design &

Container Gardening)

Goals for Talks on

Contemplative Introduction Food Gardening

– Food for your freshest nutrition

– Food for thought

– Food for community benefits

– Food for your soul

Approach of Talks on

Contemplative Food Gardening

• Integrate the concepts of contemplative

gardens and edible landscaping, using

organic food gardening practices

• Provide background information on the

science and principles from agroecology

for successful organic food gardening

• Offer an opportunity to participate in the

setup of a contemplative food garden at

Warm Mineral Springs Spa

• Provide additional educational resources

Review: What is Edible Landscaping?

The thoughtful arrangement of edible plants in the landscape

into a unified, functional biological whole to maximize their

aesthetic appeal and food production.

Treating Edibles as Ornamentals


What Is Organic Food Gardening?

Review:Organic Food Gardening

• It’s a science and art

• Incorporates the entire landscape design

and environment, e.g., to improve and

maximize the garden soil's structure, life &


• Maximizes the production and health of

developing food plants without using

synthetic commercial fertilizers, pesticides,

or fungicides

David Knauft, Horticulture Department, Univ. of GA

Review: Contemplative Food Gardening

Gardening outside the rows…creatively for

personal inspiration and growth, as well as

physical nourishment and growth

Food For Your Soul

The outward spring and garden are a reflection

of the inward garden . . .

. . . Cease looking for flowers there blooms a

garden in your own home. While you go looking

for trinkets, your treasure house awaits you in

your own being . . .


Sufi poet


Contemplative Garden Approach

Discover your inward garden to grow your

outward garden

Your inward garden lies in your

imagination, memory, character, & dreams

Your outward garden lies upon your land –

a private landscape for wandering, for

dancing, for daydreaming

J.M. Messervy

Landscape Architect Visionary

Review: Contemplative Food

Garden Design Approach



yard into

a garden

full of





magic …

Ecological Communities

‣Science of Agroecology

‣ the application of ecological concepts &

principles to the design & management of

sustainable food production

‣ provides a framework based on the

scientific study of the ecology of natural


Ecosystem Model from Nature

Food Garden Ecosystem





• Garden agroecosystems have functional properties &

subsystems from biodiversity management

Agroecosystem Ecology

“Concept of Community

Context of a Food Plant Community




Food Garden Insect Community Example

What Is A Beneficial Insect?

Honey bee

Ladybug beetle

• Any insect that controls

harmful pests or pollinates

plants. Beneficial insects

include honey bees, native

bees, ladybugs, and

lacewing larvae

Bumble bee

Green lacewing






What Is A Pest Insect?

Stink Bug

• An insect that is out of

place and/or timing

according to crop

production needs

Leaf Miner

Pepper Wevil

Food Garden Pest Insect Examples

Insect Herbivores Ecology Example

• Agroecosystem Benefits

– Prey for pollinators

– Components of food web

– Decomposers of plant debris

– Predators of other insects

• Agroecosystem Costs

– Loss of food yield & harvest

– Disease vectors of crops

• Overall Agroecosystem Impact

– Balance of benefits vs costs

Of all insect species in the world

Less than 1%


to be pests

Beneficial or not

considered to be pests

(> 99%)

Know How to Identify Pests vs Beneficials !!

Pests or Beneficials?

Cultural Traditions of Beneficial Insects


Honey bees and honey are present in the creation myths,

cosmologies and sacred places of many diverse ancient


Honey bees were considered a symbol of the soul, of

death and of rebirth

The hive of honey bees symbolized a functional society.

Honey was regarded as a magical, sacred substance.

Honey has had many uses:

‣ foods and beverages

‣ heal wounds and cure diseases

‣ placed in tombs and used for embalming


In the mythology of ancient

Greece the Omphalos was the

beehive or stone at the center of

reality. It served as the portal to

their gods.

Omphalos stones were

erected in several areas

surrounding the Mediterranean

Sea; the most famous of those

was at the oracle in Delphi.

Persephone with the Omphalos (i.e.,

Beehive) on her head at the Eleusis

Museum in Athens


Jewelry depicting a bee goddess, Greek c. 700 BCE

Ancient bee goddesses

included Aprodite, Artemis,

Cybele, Demeter,

Persephone, and Neith.

The ancient priestesses of

the Bee Goddesses were

known as the Melissaes in

Greek and the Deborahs in


The Melissae represent

the sacred feminine tradition.


Bhramari Devi,

the ancient Bee

Goddess of India,

(the “protector”)

“The queen bee is

to her hive as a

goddess is to her


Legend of Bhramari Devi, Bee Goddess

Bramari" signifies the 'Bees'

in Hindi language.

The central heart chakra is

said to possess 12 petals and

helps build the antibodies to

protect humans from disease.

Within this chakra resides

Bhramari Devi and emits the

droning notes of 'Bees' termed

'Bhramaran' as it throbs. It

protects us from external

attacks of negativities like

bacteria or virus.


Bhramari Devi, Bee Goddess, Legend

According to Hindu mythology, there once lived an asura (demon)

called Arun. He wanted to establish his kingdom by driving out the

devas (nature spirits) with his invading army.

The devas prayed to the deity Parmeshwari Devi to save them. She

transformed herself into a large bee and with a swarm of bees which

emerged out from her form surrounded the wives of the devas and

sent out numerous lines of black bees, which joined with those

emerging from her hands, covering the whole Earth.

The sky was completely overcast with the swarm of bees, and the

Earth was cast into darkness and the spectacle presented a terrific

sight. Then the black bees began to tear assunder the breasts of the

demons, as bees sting those who disturb their hives.

The powerless asuras could not fight or communicate with one

another, and so perished rapidly. Adi Shakti, in her form as the divine

bee approached Aruna asura and said, "O, asura! Meet your end!" And

she stung him to death.


Mayan Bee God Mok Chi

The ancient Maya revered honey for its medicinal and

ritualistic uses. Their pantheon of gods include a number of

Bee gods, such as Ah-Muzen-Cab and Mok Chi, a multi faceted

figure who is featured prominently in Mayan art and mythology.

In the Yucatan, it is believed that the Ah-Mucen-Cab protects

the locals from ‘Killer Bees’.

Mayan Bee god Ah Muzen Cab


Scenes from Slovenia Today

Beeshed with small front

boards over the gullet with

different little pictures

depicting Saints, people

and animals and especially

from everyday life.

Slovenian Melissae

from long history of



Today there are contempary

artists & interpreters of some

sacred practices and images of

historical bee mythology.

For example, the frame drum

was played by the Melissae. Their

rituals and rhythms were drawn

from their interaction with their bee

hives. They serve as the inspiration

of modern Melissae rituals.

Melissae in Beeyard

See website of ‘Hymns from the Hive’ -

Garden Contemplations of

Beneficial Insects

Importance of Pollinators

• More than 75% of flowering plants depend

on animal pollinators

• In U.S., over 100 crop plants depend on

animal pollinators (value >$15 Billion)

• Most natural ecosystems would collapse

without animal pollinators

• Some plants are endangered because of

diminished pollination


Fossil record that insect diversity increased dramatically following the

origin of the flowering plants 100 M Yrs BP (in the Cretaceous period).

Coevolution: Pollinators & Flowering Plants

100 M



Why is pollination important?

• Sexual reproduction is important for


• Sexual reproduction produces variable

offspring, creating diversity and variation

among populations (shuffling of genes)

• You need variation for Natural Selection to


• Sexual reproduction is advantageous to an

organism only if it happens with someone

other than itself!

• Outbreeding = good! (inbreeding = bad…)

1 37

Function of flower

• To attract pollinators with colorful petals,

scent, nectar and pollen


1 38

Benefits to the pollinators.

• Benefits

– Pollen

• rich food source

– Nectar

• average ~ 40%


– No benefit? -


• pseudocopulation


Ophrys –







• About 130

US crops are

pollinated by


• List of crops

that benefit

but do not

require bee




1 43

Pollination Impacts

• List of crops that require bee visitation

1 44

• List of crops that require bee visitation

Pollination Impacts


Native Bee Diversity

Sweat bee

(Agapostemon spp)

Carpenter bee

(Xylocopa spp)

Mason bee

(Osmia spp)

Carder bee

(Anthidium spp)

Bumble bee

(Bombus spp)

Native Bee Background

• There are approximately 4,000 native bee

species in North America

• In Florida there are 6 families and 360

genera of native bees

• Florida has a relatively large number of

endemic species and subspecies

• Native bees are the most important

pollinators of Florida native plants,

although many other animals are also

pollinators (e.g., butterflies, moths, beetle

and birds)

Native Bee Life Cycle

Complete Metamorphosis

1) Inside brood cell

• Egg

• Larvae

• Pupae

11 months

2)Outside brood cell

• Adult

6 weeks

Mining bee

Ground Nest Example



Brood cells

Polyester bee

(Colletes spp)

Soil nest profile

Ground Nest Example

Cavity Nest Example

• Creating Wood/Cavity Nesting Cover

• Wood or tunnel nesting bees example

Bundle of

paper straws

Wooden block

with drilled holes






Florida Species Example

Leaf Cutting Bees

In Florida there are 63 different species (plus

five subspecies) within seven genera in the

family Megachilidea (Ashmeadiella, Heriades,

Hoplitis, Coelioxys, Lithurgus, Megachile, and


Anthidium spp

Osmia spp.

Megachile spp.

Coelioxys spp

Leaf Cutting Bee Pollinators

• Important native pollinators of many


• Used as commercial pollinators

(like honey bees) in fruits,

vegetables and other crops such as

alfalfa, onions, carrots, and

blueberries, e.g. Osmia spp.

Megachile spp

on alfalfa flower

Leaf Cutting Bee Biology

• Use 0.25 to 0.5 inch circular pieces of

leaves they neatly cut from plants

• Construct cigar-shaped nests in

cavities in soil, rotten wood, and plant


Cut leaves


• Nests contain several cells, each

containing stored pollen and a single


• Overwinter in these nests as

newly formed adults

Leaf Cutting Bee Habitat Mgt

• Small diameter holes (size of a nickel or

smaller) in soft, rotting wood are an ideal

nesting site for these bees

• Some leafcutter bees will nest in thickstemmed

plants (such as roses and bamboo)

with hollowed openings

Megachile spp entering a wood nest

Leaf Cutting Bee Ecology

• Can be considered a pest because of leaf cutting on

ornamental plants, e.g., roses, azaleas, ash, redbud,

bougainvillea and other plants with thin smooth leaves

• Although the cutting can destroy the aesthetics, it

rarely harms the plant

• Prevent nesting by sealing pruned ends with wax or

white glue

Biological Control of Pest Insects

with Beneficial Insects

Most pests have natural

enemies (biological control

agents) that regulate their

population and are adapted to

searching out & feeding on their


Insect biological control agents

exist as predators or parasites.

Ladybug beetle

Biological control is an important

component of any integrated pest

management (IPM) program. Parasitic Ichneumonidae Wasp

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

“Bio-Intensive Approach”

• Developed because the practice of

conventional IPM has strayed from its

ecological roots !

• Conventional IPM criticized now as

“Integrated Pesticide Management”

• Conventional IPM is missing guidelines for

ecology-based manipulations of the

agroecosystem that address the questions:

– Why is the pest there?

– How did it arrive?

– Why doesn’t the parasite/predator complex

control the pest?

Bio-Intensive IPM

“State of the Art” Research

• Use a systems level and multiple redundant

approach (e.g., the use of offsite hedgerows to

provide “habitat” and “guilds" of food plants and

beneficial insects)

• Consider dispersion indices for insects foraging


• Establish ‘overwintering’ sites for beneficials

• Entrainment - some insects (especially parasitic

wasps and flies) can perform associative

learning (i.e.,"tune in" to a particular pest when

“happy” in their environment)

Bio-Intensive IPM Example

Bio-Intensive IPM

• Successful habitats for desired

beneficial insects have 4


– Food (e.g., insectary plants)

– Cover (e.g., nests)

– Water

– Space



Providing Cover

• “Natural area” groupings of bare areas, ground

cover, shrubs, and small trees

• Increase vertical height diversity

• Both food and cover can be provided at the

same time

Providing Space

• Group flowers and other plants together

to make large patches

• Allow sufficient area for different

plantings to provide food throughout the

year and a variety of flower types.

• Think about the landscape near your


Providing Food: Insectary Plants


• Provide the protein (in pollen) and

carbohydrates (in nectar) that

beneficials need to thrive and produce

more offspring.

• Available as supplemental food source

when the pest insects they feed on are

in short supply.

Insectary Plant Characteristics

• Commonly with small, shallow

flowers suited for most beneficials

that are minute in size, with

shorter mouthparts

• Examples - umbel-type plants

(flower clusters shaped like flattopped

umbrellas) like those

found in the carrot or Apiaceae

family (dill, cilantro, etc.) and

certain flowers found in the

composite or Asteraceae family

(daisy and chamomile)

Insectary Plant Characteristics

• Presence of extrafloral

nectaries (nectar sources

located outside the flower,

e.g., the petiole or stem).

• A few examples include

sunflowers, and legumes

or Fabaceae family, e.g.,

lupines and vetch

K. Wetherbee. 2004. Organic Gardening; Apr/May2004, Vol. 51(3)

Bio-Intensive IPM

With Seasonal Insectary Plants

• Spring

Mustards for

Ladybugs &

Syrphid fly adults

• Summer

Queen Anne’s Lace for

Scollid Wasps & ladybugs

• Fall

Fennel for

Syrphid flies & small parasitic wasps

• Winter

Dandelion for

Syrphid flies & small parasitic wasps

Insectary Plants

With Florida Native Plants

• Native plant/insect research shows

high levels of insect interactions

• Florida native plants are known

insectary plants

• Examples:

– Butterfly plants

– Coreopsis spp - syrphid flies, lady

beetles, lacewings, and parasitic


Contemplative Food Gardening

Nurture the child in you and rediscover awe for

the world of beneficial insects in the garden


• “Grow” a community of beneficial insects in

your contemplative food garden

• Prepare your garden areas with the habitat for

beneficial insects by providing

- Food - Water - Cover - Space

• The cultural & horticultural aspects of a

community of beneficial insects offer you many

contemplations in your garden


• Altieria, M. 2009. Agroecology, Small Farms, and

Food Soverignty. Monthly Review: Volume 61(3) -


• Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Association -


• Cornell Cooperative Extension. 1999. Companion

Planting – see


• Dufour, R. 2000. Farmscaping to Enhance

Biological Control. A.T.T.R.A .Publication. - see


•Sawyers, C. 2012. The Authentic Garden: Five

Principles for Cultivating a Sense of Place. Timber

Press. Portland, OR.


• Kourik, R. 1986. Designing and Maintaining Your

Edible Landscape Naturally. Metamorphic Press, Santa

Monica, CA.

• Kuepper, G. & M. Dodson. 2009. Companion

Planting: Concepts & Principles - see

• Messervy, J.M. 1989. The Magic Land: Designing

Your Own Enchanted Garden. McMillan Publishers.

•Ransome, H.M. 2004. The Sacred Bee in Ancient

Times and Folklore. Dover Books.


• Stahl, R. 2009. Comparison of Companion

Planting Guides for Most Common Garden

Vegetables - see

• Stevens, J.M. 2009. Organic Vegetable

Gardening. UF/IFAS EDIS Publication #CIR375

– see

• Stephens, J.M. 2010. Florida Vegetable

Gardening Guide. UF/IFAS EDIS Publication

#SP103 - see

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